Overblows

The lowdown on the Mississippi Sax. Just for Google, this section is about harmonicas.

Overblows

Postby yidakipaul » Sun Dec 09, 2012 9:18 pm

Hi

I've never cracked overblow's - I can comfortably get every draw and blow bend - I understand the theory and I've got the odd overblow out of a harp.

How many people out there are playing with overblows?
I've read stuff regarding which harps overblow better - I do wonder if it has more to do with how well the harp is setup than the the harp you buy?
I did read a review of the newest very expensive Hohner that claimed it was easier to overblow out of the box?

For those guy's that are routinely using overblow's - is it something you'd strongly recommend persuing? In reality would I better in concentrating my time in becoming a better blues harpist with just the bends?

I'm not sure how many of the greats use overblow's - Sonny Boy 1 and 2 / Little Walter I can't hear overblowing in these guy's playing - I'm I just missing it because I don't know what I'm listening for?
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Re: Overblows

Postby jeffl » Mon Dec 10, 2012 5:31 pm

I've played harp for about 45 years & I don't use overblows..BUT, I recommend learning 'em if you want to. Especially if you really wanna master your instrument. Obviously, they'll give you access to notes that you can't get otherwise on a diatonic harp.
There's a forum called Dirty South Blues Harp (or sumpin like that) that's kinda "overblow central". It's hosted by a guy named Adam Gussow. I'd look at the archives on that forum. It's at http://modernbluesharmonica.com Scroll way down to the link toward the bottom of the page.
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Re: Overblows

Postby yidakipaul » Mon Dec 10, 2012 9:58 pm

Hi Jeff - Thanks for the response
I've checked out a lot of Gussow's stuff - to be honest I wouldn't even know where to start on overblow's if it wasn't for his youtube lesson (Jason Ritchie is also awesome on overblows).
A few years back a took a one to one lesson with fantastic UK harp player Ben Hewlett - the guy can knock chromatic scales out of harp using overblows - at the time I was starting out on harp so didn't even really go into overblows.
The more I look into overblowing the more it seems that it's a technique mastered by the few (Maybe you need some form of Jedi Training?).
I did a workshop with one of the top UK players a while back (Matt Walklate) - Matt's a pro musician (I think he has some endorsement deal with Siedel) and he doesn't use overblows.

In terms of the legendary harp players of the world can anyone out there tell me who routinely used overblows - or better still name a track that utilities them?

On the subject of Adam Gussow - one of my first intro's to the blues as a teenager listening to pop and rock was watching U2's "Rattle and Hum" (first time I ever sat down and listened to BB King) - There's also a brief scene where the band are in Harlem listening to street blues - It's only recently I put 2 and 2 together and realised it was a young Adam Gussow and a younger looking Stirling MaGee:
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x6M2aWVx0LA&playnext=1&list=PL9049AF92167FC0D6&feature=results_main[/youtube]
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Re: Overblows

Postby jeffl » Mon Dec 10, 2012 10:14 pm

Do you play stock harps, or do you play harps that are tweaked for overblows? If you don't play custom tweaked harps, I would get ahold of one of the guys on Gussow's site and have 'em build you a harp that'll help in developing your ability to achieve those notes.
It's apparent that the guys who are mastering this technique have been very patient and persistent in learning the skill... esp. disciplining themselves to not play too hard, which makes those overblows almost impossible to learn.
I don't think that listening to guys play 'em will be that much help in learning how to play them. Think back to when you were just learning to achieve draw bends: those don't come easy for beginners usually. I put overblows in the same category, except that you can't coax 'em with force like you can draw bends.
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Re: Overblows

Postby yidakipaul » Tue Dec 11, 2012 8:42 am

Hi Jeff

I'm playing stock harps - maybe this is one of the main reasons I haven,t cracked OB?

I've looked a the tweaked harps - they're expensive (especially if I blow a reed after a few weeks)

I know gussow has some stuff on seting harps up - might be a good starting point
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Re: Overblows

Postby jeffl » Tue Dec 11, 2012 8:20 pm

You didn't mention how long you've been playing harp, but you did mention blowing a reed. Usually, blowing up reeds is a result of playing with too much force. I blew up reeds for many years, until I learned to play with much less force. I play alotta harp and I hardly ever blow one up any more. I might blow up a reed once in two or three years. I'm not bragging; mostly that trend changed through experience. It also changed by turning up my amp or mic when playing with amplified musicians, and playing with a lighter touch and less force.
Playing with too much force can also be a result of playing acoustically (without amplification) when you are trying to match volume with alot of other instruments around you. I've played acoustically with large groups of acoustic guitars, mandos, banjos, drummers, accordian players, etc., and I play with more force in those situations. Better to amplify, even when playing with a large group of un-mic'ed string instruments.
The less force you use, the quicker you'll be able to play, and the better your dynamics will be. Better dexterity.
I'm not trying to preach: it's just difficult to tell on the web what peoples' level of experience is, and how many bad habits they've got ingrained (I've got plenty of 'em that I hang onto like gold, for some unknown reason).
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Re: Overblows

Postby yidakipaul » Wed Dec 12, 2012 1:33 pm

Hi Jeff - Don't worry about preaching, your advice is really usefull

I've been playing Harp for about 4 years now - I've played bass and 6 string since I was in my teens (I'm nearly 40 now) - I've also played traditional Didgeridoo (Yidaki) for many years, I found this very useful in getting my head round note bending early on (would also highly reconmend it for breathing techniques),
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bEa9GLUC2Tg
I don't play any chromic (at this moment in time I don't think it's something I'll ever get into) my aim over the few years is to really improve my abilities as a blues musician on 6 string and harp.

I don't bust that may harps to be honest - I still have the first C SP20 I bought 4 years ago and whilst the tuning is now getting a little screwy it's in perfect working order!
I have blown a couple of blues harps and a Big River - Looking at the price of some of the tweaked harps I'd be a little worried of knackering the thing up! - I suspect buying one and attempting OB's with my limited knowledge in this area may be a sure way to achieve this!
I've no doubt I do play a little heavy at times howvever (especially when playing along with others)
I did read something about John Popper saying he was lucky if he got 2 gig's out of a harp! - not many folks play like JP
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Re: Overblows

Postby jeffl » Wed Dec 12, 2012 5:13 pm

Popper prob'ly doesn't pay for his harps. :lol:
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Re: Overblows

Postby jeffl » Wed Dec 12, 2012 10:32 pm

We had a kid visit our jams once in a while who played didgeridoo. He wasn't accepted very well, and he didn't overplay. :)
Have you seen Harper play? He's come to America with his brand of didgeridoo laced blues. Playin' outa Michigan I think.
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Re: Overblows

Postby yidakipaul » Fri Dec 14, 2012 2:03 pm

Harper

Who?
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Re: Overblows

Postby jeffl » Fri Dec 14, 2012 4:22 pm

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Re: Overblows

Postby bottleneck » Sun Jan 27, 2013 8:55 pm

i usually set my harps up so that you can't overblow or overbend.i like a lot of gap in my reeds. i do keep a few harps at home that one can overblow on,in order to work out different ideas,but i don't gig with them.

www.shakeylee.com
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Re: Overblows

Postby goldbrick » Wed Jan 30, 2013 7:58 pm

Overblows seem to be the new big thing these days but ( at least for blues) I don;t think it adds a whole lot.

i guess i am a traditionalist but my favorite harp players didn't seem to use that technique.
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Re: Overblows

Postby jeffl » Thu Jan 31, 2013 1:41 am

goldbrick wrote:Overblows seem to be the new big thing these days but ( at least for blues) I don;t think it adds a whole lot.

i guess i am a traditionalist but my favorite harp players didn't seem to use that technique.

I don't have any problem with them when they're done tastefully, but I think they're often over-used, to the point of wrecking the groove.
I also think they're used for flash, which is ok in the right situations.. tastefully again.
I'm primarily a sideman, and I tend to take a conservative approach to my comping, except when you gotta light it up for a break to throw the crowd a bone.
Otherwise, it makes sense as a choice to get everything you can outa your instrument.
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